from whom all blessings flow

by Kayla Raymond

Although I’m celebrating Christmas day in Iowa, we spent a lot of time in the past two weeks celebrating the birth of Jesus in Haiti.

At ViBella, we spent a day getting pedicures, having a nice meal together and each employee received new Bibles. At the school, all the staff reflected on all the great things that are happening on the mountaintop and talked about more ways to influence the students. We shared a meal together and each member of the staff received a small present also. Through Touch of Hope, we were able to bless over 35 sponsored children with gifts. Then, two Sundays ago, 24 of “my” Haitian village children gathered around two picnic tables to hear the story of Christmas.

Although people only know me as a mother of two, I would actually consider myself a “mama” to many of the children in Simonette. Most of these children have parents of their own, but when they have fevers, coughs, or scrapes they come to me for medicine. They always make sure to tell me when it is their birthday and I scramble to put a special package together for them. They’ve been the children that made me fall in love with Simonette from the beginning. They’re the kids that have been the best Creole teachers and taught me all about “village life”. They’re the ones who come running around the corner to greet me each morning as I walk to work. They’re my inspiration.

Last Christmas, we celebrated with them at our house so I guess it is becoming a tradition.

celebrating with the older girls who prepared the meal

celebrating with the older girls who prepared the meal

The teenage girls and I cooked a Haitian meal together for all the younger kids and before we ate my friend Jean Marc helped translate and tell the Christmas story. After dinner we opened presents, which was made possible by all the faithful supporters who drop off donations at our house. We ended the night watching Madagascar 3 on the side of a building in downtown Simonette. It was a beautiful evening!

listening to the Christmas story

listening to the Christmas story

Let me introduce you to the rest of my “kids”….

sisters Emmanuella and Maslana

sisters Emmanuella and Maslana

Webert's niece and nephews: Tong, Pieusla and Mand

Webert’s niece and nephews: Tong, Pieusla and Mand

cousins who all live under the same roof: Kendzy, Alex and Calverson

cousins who all live under the same roof: Kendzy, Alex and Calverson

little Galvens, whose mom is expecting to have a baby within the next month

little Galvens, whose mom is expecting to have a baby within the next month

only child Cherimand, who is being raised by her grandmother

only child Cherimand, who is being raised by her grandmother

siblings Benhamy, Verno and Roberta

siblings Benhamy, Verno and Roberta

sisters Dana, Freina and Seadley

sisters Dana, Freina and Seadley

brothers Thermens and Samuel

brothers Thermens and Samuel

Mr. Guenson

Mr. Guenson

sisters Becherlande and Gesperline

sisters Becherlande and Gesperline

siblings Felicita, Chrisanto, Dieulina and Esperlito

siblings Felicita, Chrisanto, Dieulina and Esperlito

siblings Samantha and Clarence

siblings Samantha and Clarence

Aren’t they beautiful children?

As I sit and relax today, going through all my pictures, I’m reminded how truly blessed I am this holiday season. The past 7 months of living full-time in Haiti has been hard, challenging and I’ve seen so much already it seems like I’ve been living there for much longer. Yet the difficulty is overcome by simplicity and joy. The joy on these children faces should remind us all that it doesn’t have to take hundreds of dollars to bring joy; it can be the junk in your closets that can bring joy. (as I mentioned before all the gifts were donations)

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I see the joy in the ViBella employees who are grateful to have a job everyday. The 700 students who have a school to go to. The 28 staff members who are influencing the next generation. My two boys who have someone to call “mama” and “papa”.

It is a joy that comes from a God who was so humble that he sent His one and only son to be born in a manger.  A son who would later die on a cross for our sins. It is a joy that flows from a God who reveals himself as never changing, ever faithful and truly graceful.

May these smiles and the season remind us of the simplicity in the Christmas story and bring us to our knees in adoration. May God bless you this season and in the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Webert and I!

Merry Christmas from Webert and I!

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